Havana Libre by Robert Arellano

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This novel is rich in atmosphere and political critique; if only they had been more seamlessly woven into the meat of the story.


"[An] exquisitely made thriller...A remarkably powerful narrative. The interrogation scene repulses while it grips...but readers are advised to stay with it for a rich reading experience."
--Booklist, Starred Review

"This potent noir sheds light on Cuban life in the post-Soviet era...Building to an explosive ending, this atmospheric mix of proletarian literature and Graham Greene–style espionage informs as it entertains."
--Publishers Weekly

"At the behest of Castro's government, a Cuban doctor is sent to Miami in 1997 to find out who has been sponsoring a series of terrorist bombings in Havana in this new novel by Arellano...This novel is rich in atmosphere and political critique."
--Kirkus Reviews

"The intrinsically linked politics and culture of Cuba and Miami combine for an unusual spy novel in Robert Arellano's second novel about Havana pediatrician Mano Rodriguez...A bit of paean to the old-fashioned spy novel."
--South Florida

"In 1997, a series of bombs rocked Havana--a city already deep in an economic and spiritual depression. In Havana Libre, the anxiety of the time is palpable. Robert Arellano gives us a detailed and precise portrait of one of the most surreal places on earth. A mystery with alluring twists and turns, Havana Libre also poses a deeper question: how does one contend with the anguish of loving a place that can never, ever love you back? Compelling and restrained, this is Arellano's best to date."
--Achy Obejas, author of The Tower of the Antilles

Praise for the previous works of Robert Arellano:

"[A] thoughtful, lushly detailed neo-noir."
--Publishers Weekly, on Havana Lunar

"A sad, surreal, beautiful tour of the hell that was Cuba in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The writing is hypnotic, the storytelling superb. Havana Lunar is perfect."
--Tim McLoughlin, author of Heart of the Old Country

"Written with passion and vision and with a clear, unflinching eye, Havana Lunar breaks new ground. In it the Cuban underworld of chulos and jineteras is revealed and the überworld of political bosses and apparatchiks unmasked. I am certain that Havana Lunar will find a wide and enthusiastic readership."
--Pablo Medina, author of The Cigar Roller

"In this unsettling mix of noir and paranormal obsession, Arellano displays a sly, Hitchcockian touch."
--Publishers Weekly, on Curse the Names

In this explosive follow-up to Havana Lunar, Dr. Mano Rodriguez takes an undercover assignment to the most dangerous city in Latin America: Miami.

During the summer of 1997, a series of bombings terrorize Havana hotels. The targets are tourists, and the terrorists are exiles seeking to cripple Cuban tourism and kill the Revolution. After Mano finds himself helpless to save one of the victims, his nemesis Colonel Emilio Pérez of the National Revolutionary Police recruits him into Havana's top-secret Wasp Network of spies for a job that only he can perform--but for reasons he never would have believed or expected.


About Robert Arellano

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Robert Arellano is the author of the Edgar-nominated noir Havana Lunar and two earlier novels, all published by Akashic Books. Writing as Eddy Arellano, he collaborated with three artists on the graphic novel Dead in Desemboque from Soft Skull Press, and as Bobby Rabyd he created the Web's first interactive novel, Sunshine '69. He lived for seven years in the small mountain town of Dixon, New Mexico, and he now teaches in the College of Arts & Sciences at Southern Oregon University.
Published November 20, 2017 by Akashic Books. 224 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Crime, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Havana Libre
All: 2 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 2


Below average
on Sep 18 2017

This novel is rich in atmosphere and political critique; if only they had been more seamlessly woven into the meat of the story.

Read Full Review of Havana Libre | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Benjamin Welton on Nov 19 2017

As good as Arellano’s descriptions are, this book is light on plot. Indeed, the whole international espionage issue is only dealt with in the last 100 pages or so. Similarly, the novel’s conclusion feels like an example of deus ex machina...

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